Monday 19 December 2016
About this time last year Bega Valley Shire Council was declared Fit for the Future by the NSW Government. This was a major achievement that not only confirmed our financial and strategic leadership, but also put us in a position to stand alone while other Local Government areas were made to amalgamate with their neighbours.
Now a year has passed and we are in the process of looking to the future, working with you all to plan the years ahead. It's vital to look forward in this way, but at this unique time of year when Christmas and the New Year bring about a slow in pace for many of us, we are given the space to look in all directions; reflecting on the past, the days yet to come and on those people around us.
We can use this time to take that Fit for the Future confirmation from the NSW Government and turn it on ourselves as community, asking if we are all - business owners, families, students, workers, retirees and councillors - ready for the future.
Are we fundamentally a great bunch of people? Do we look out for people wanting a helping hand? Are we prepared for the challenges and opportunities that the future will inevitably bring? From my time serving as Councillor and Mayor of the Bega Valley Shire, I can whole heartedly say 'Yes' we are.
While a growing narrative from major media outlets paints a picture of divided communities seemingly at odds with each other on big issues such as climate change and immigration, the reality is that we are a collection of wonderfully complex and diverse people who talk with each other every day and are not shy in helping out when needed.
I'm fortunate enough to see volunteers helping others in every part of our Shire, and it's incredibly inspiring watching so many people lending a hand irrespective of who they are helping and what they choose to believe in.
This is particularly apparent at Christmas time when so many people feel isolated and frozen out of the seasonal celebrations, and this is recognised by hundreds of amazing volunteers in the Shire who turn up every year to help people in need.
Add to this the thousands of local people who work without complaint throughout the festive season. These are the healthcare workers, hospitality workers, shop workers and community workers who keep our Shire ticking when others are out there enjoying a well earned break.
So to me, this says we are ready as a community to face the future, because we are essentially kind people who are willing to be part of a growing and strong community composed of many interwoven groups with different values and beliefs.
Please stay safe and enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year. If you are able, take time out to relax; maybe even switch off that phone, because the future is just around the corner, and while we are all fit and prepared, I can say with confidence that it'll be another busy year for sure!
Cr Kristy McBain